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The social and visual Web

I recall years ago when Steve Case said that those who dig for gold make more money than those supplying the picks and shovels. As the co-founder and former CEO of America Online, he was bias. But he has a point. These days if MySpace and YouTube are the ones digging for gold, their sales to News Corp (nws) and Google (goog) show that when you hit gold, you hit it big.

But the battle to become a top video or social network destination site is fierce. The landscape is littered with sleep-deprived, burned-out founders and CEOs of dozens of startup video-sharing or social network sites, as well as those working at veteran Internet sites. So despite the rich rewards in finding that pot of gold, some startups are avoiding this costly war, opting instead to provide the tools and platforms to socialize and video-rize the world. Essentially what they're saying is: Rather than fight with MySpace and YouTube, and the dozens of others, why not just provide the picks and shovels to others who want at it? What's the result of that?

I'm not sure, but I can only imagine that my inbox will be filled with "new friend" requests in a video format some day. Oh, joy.

So, who are these tools and shovel companies? This week, two young companies -- DAVE.tv and vSocial -- unveiled software services to provide companies and individuals a way to have a video and text blog platform that also includes social networking features. (Note: I use blog to define a Web-based publishing platform that allows anyone to contribute.) I think it's an excellent idea. As many of my readers and viewers know I love the marriage of both: The blogging capabilities in video or text allow for anyone to contribute from a staffed producer and reporter to the audience or the user. The social network features allow anyone to market and distribute the content.

Now, sure, there are others who already provide white-label video solutions, such as Feedroom, Brightcove, VideoEgg, Maven Networks, and Narrowstep. Even Cisco Systems (csco) is offering video-capabilities to businesses. But none of the aforementioned companies (besides DAVE.tv and vSocial) are offering the social networking features that let the audience communicate with one another, make friends, share and build affinity groups. These are the features that give the audience control to manage their worlds, or in MySpace parlance, their spaces. 

That said, it's only a matter of time before social network features (connect, make friends, share, vote, rank, etc.) are commodities incorporated into blog publishing platforms. It's only a matter of time before all the companies I mentioned above announce that they too will offer the same services and tools. For now, they don't. Or if they do, they're in stealth mode.

Read my Net Sense column on MarketWatch for the rest of the column: Socialize this... video


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